Sunday 26 November 2023, 7.30pm
SANAM's music is a ritual where improvised rock, free jazz and noise underscore an exorcism of traditional Egyptian song and Arabic poetry.
Sandy Chamoun (vocals), Antonio Hajj (bass), Farah Kaddour (buzuk), Anthony Sahyoun (guitar, synth), Pascal Semerdjian (drums) and Marwan Tohme (guitars) bring a myriad of influences gleaned from years performing either solo or as members of influential acts in Beirut’s tight-knit independent music scene (such as Al Rahel al Kabir, Postcards, Kinematik and Ovid).
SANAM formed following an invitation to perform with Hans Joachim Irmler from the legendary German experimental group Faust, at Beirut's Irtijal music festival in 2022. The musicians had planned to reiterate their fortuitous experience with Irmler but when this plan fell through, they decided to go on a recording residency together instead in a traditional house in the village of Saqi Reshmaya, Lebanon. The recording of the album took place during a particularly difficult time in their native country of Lebanon, which continues to suffer from an unprecedented economic collapse as well as social and political unrest. “We decided to take eight days off in May 2022 in an effort to completely disconnect ourselves from Beirut” says Sahyoun, who also performs in post-rock outfit Kinematik.
During their residency, the musicians, who come from distinct musical styles and backgrounds, decided to record the full album live with no overdubs: “The musical direction for SANAM was set out by the improv sessions with Joachim," says Sahyoun. "We weren't looking at doing something specific, it ended up coming out as a weird mix between improvised rock, tarab/arabic song and ambient. Kind of putting different things in a blender (our different musical backgrounds) and never really letting them quite fuse together. Recounting the insular experience of recording this debut, Sandy Chamoun described it as “almost hallucinogenic, as if there was a tacit agreement among us to produce an album that sounded 'unearthly' ”.
"Beirut group Sanam’s debut record Aykathani Malakon blasts to life with its mix of low-tuned guitar jams, industrial drums, and earthy vocals – an immersive collection of dark and spacious textures” –The Guardian
“A gritty blend of noise rock, ambient textures and Arabic forms that cast the traditional material in a visceral new context" – The Wire